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New complex helps graduate students build community

Weyburn 615
The new Weyburn Commons, with its distinctive white tower, and Weyburn Paseo, with 500 studio apartments, give graduate students a nice place to live as well as socialize. The light-filled commons provides all 1,800 graduate students living in the entire Weyburn Terrace complex with spaces to relax, meet and study. Courtesy of UCLA Housing and Hospitality Services
There’s a new "heartbeat" in Westwood Village emanating from a residential complex recently created and customized for UCLA graduate students that’s bringing new life to the southwest section of the community.
 
The sleek, nine-story, tile-roofed Weyburn Paseo, trimmed with red geranium blooms, now bustles with graduate students, who have been moving into the complex since April. All 500 of its studio apartments — some boasting floor-to-ceiling windows, balconies and stunning views — embrace a central building, called the Weyburn Commons, that’s packed with amenities that make it an ideal hangout for a study break, a community "clubhouse" for grad student events and a public multipurpose meeting room for up to 150 people.
 
Sean Dreyer
Medical student Sean Dreyer (left) cites the conveniently located complex as one of the many factors that influenced his decision to come to UCLA. Photo by Christelle Nahas
Weyburn Paseo, named for a major pedestrian path that runs through the heart of the complex, and Weyburn Commons, distinguished by its graceful white tower, are the latest eye-catching additions to the Weyburn Terrace complex that is currently home to 1,800 single graduate students.
 
"These buildings are an important step towards UCLA’s commitment to provide quality housing for our graduate students," said Peter Angelis, assistant vice chancellor for housing and hospitality services at UCLA. "The new studio inventory specifically addresses the most important needs that our grads have identified — proximity to campus, affordability and privacy.
 
"Additionally, our grad students have requested commons space to help build community," Angelis said. "The beautifully designed commons building provides state-of-the-art social gathering areas as well as a meeting venue for recruiting events, formal mixers and presentations."
 
Building community among graduate students who come from all over the globe to a mega-metropolis that may feel like alien territory to them is what Weyburn Commons can accomplish, said Shirley Wong, director of University Apartments. 
 
Balcony
Grad students socialize on the balcony of the Village View meeting room in the commons. Courtesy of UCLA Housing and Hospitality Services
"L.A. is a big city that some may see as kind of cold. What we tried to do is make this a warm, welcoming and friendly place where graduate students can feel they are part of something bigger and make friends among scholars from all different disciplines," Wong said.
 
The new additions are also central to UCLA's efforts to compete for top graduate students because housing plays a key role in recruiting top prospects. Each fall, a significant number of graduate student housing allocations are reserved for academic departments and programs to offer to their top recruits.
 
"While UCLA has many stellar academic programs, applicants who are admitted to our programs are very likely to be admitted to many of our peer institutions," said Samuel Bersola, assistant vice provost for the UCLA Graduate Division. "Hence, non-academic factors, such as a sense of community and the availability and quality of housing, influence decisions to attend UCLA. With the opening of the beautiful new Weyburn Paseo and Commons — with its spectacular shared programmng space — UCLA has increased its capacity to create a richer and more collaborative graduate community."   
 
windows
Abundant sunshine lights up Weyburn Commons.
Embellished with striking patterns created by blue and white tile, the Mediterranean-style buildings were designed by award-winning, San Francisco-based STUDIOS Architecture, in association with WRT Solomon ETC. to take advantage of the site’s abundant sunlight.
   
The furnished studio apartments, which rent for 25 percent below market rate, offer privacy when students want it. But if it’s camaraderie they seek, they only have to step out to find shiny new grills on a patio just waiting for a BBQ; a comfortable lounge with a pool table, big-screen TV, easy chairs and couches; a business center with computers, printers, scanners and FAX machines; and the Village View meeting room — with its high ceiling and an expansive balcony, complete with wooden tables and chairs, that overlooks the village.
 
"I have a view out onto Westwood Village with the FOX sign that lights up the night. It’s pretty sexy," said Sean Dreyer, a first-year medical student who lives on the fifth floor of the Paseo. Dreyer said he also enjoys the convenience of having a study lounge in the commons as well as study rooms in his own building.
 
Living close to the medical school and hospital was also a selling point for Dreyer, who moved here from UC Berkeley. "Berkeley was a great experience for those [undergrad] years, but I can definitely get used to the ritziness that is Westwood Village and how convenient it is."
 
Room
A studio apartment in Weyburn Paseo comes furnished and rents for about 25 percent below market rate.
One reason why Dreyer chose to come to UCLA for medical school was its proximity to the hospital. "I wanted to do medical school where I’m hoping to also end up for residency. And knowing I could live in nice, new grad-student housing was among the many other factors that made this place appealing."
 
There’s already a waitlist of graduate students hoping to move into the Paseo, where rents run around $1,335 a month and include cable TV, Internet, utilities and furnishings.
 
"I really like it," said Shruti Swaminathan, a Paseo resident, as she picked up her laundry from the laundromat in the complex; a downloadable app sends users an email when their wash or load in the dryer is done. "It’s comfortable, convenient and nice. It’s one of the best rental apartments I’ve lived in. And everything is available in one place."